Implicit theories of relationships: Implications for relationship satisfaction and longevity


Renae Franiuk Department of Psychology, Science Building, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, WI


The role of implicit theories in romantic relationships was investigated in two studies. People holding a soulmate theory, who believed that finding the right person is most important for a satisfying relationship, were compared to people holding a work–it–out theory, who believed that effort is most important for building a successful relationship. In Study 1, college students (N = 527) completed a set of questionnaires, including measures of relationship theories and functioning within romantic relationships. Approximately 8 months later, a subset of these students (N = 176) completed a second set of questionnaires for Study 1. The implicit theories were highly stable over time (r = .74). For soulmate theorists, feelings that one’s specific partner is ideal predicted relationship satisfaction and relationship longevity to a greater extent than for work–it–out theorists. Whereas Study 1 investigated people’s theories of relationships as ends of a bipolar continuum, a separate study explored people’s theories of relationships as two unipolar dimensions. Findings from Study 2 (N = 266) supported a representation of the theories as two negatively correlated factors, and supported findings from Study 1 highlighting the role of the interaction between the relationship theories and partner fit in predicting relationship satisfaction.